Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Power of Forgiveness

The room was still except for one powerful voice. Our guest speaker, Tim Streett, held the room’s attention as he shared his fateful story of coming to forgiveness.

Tim Streett is presently the assistant director of Shepherd Community, but his ministry work was not the focus of his talk at tonight's Trusted Mentor Recognition Night. His words carried a much more solemn tone as he shared his story of his father’s dramatic murder, which he witnessed as a teen here in Indianapolis, and his ensuing path to forgiveness.

Tim’s road to forgiveness wasn’t a straight path as he took several detours with drugs and alcohol during his college years. He related that he felt a hole in his chest that was “God-sized” and used substances to try to fill that empty void--to no avail. His emptiness could not be medicated.

Tim eventually found the courage to forgive his father’s murderers by reaching out to these men who were serving life prison sentences. Tim talked about forgiveness as an “action” that serves as the first step to inner healing. Tim shared that he wasn’t able to release his anger and bitterness within until he took the critical step of forgiving his father’s killers.

As I panned the room filled with mentors and mentees-- men and women with various backgrounds including ex-offenders, formerly homeless individuals, and young adults aging out of foster care-- I could almost see the message seeping in.

One female mentee is still dealing with her own anger toward an abusive parent. In adulthood, her anger had turned into bitterness and then severe depression that was exasperated by job loss—this tragic mix led to a bout of homelessness for her.

One young man was working on forgiving his mother for giving him up for adoption and forgiving his father for never being present in his life.

I could only imagine some of our other mentees who’d served their own prison sentences for various crimes and how they struggle with their own paths to forgiveness, including forgiving themselves.

Yet, through all of these trials and hurts, each mentee has developed a relationship with a mentor. These relationships can set the foundation for healing past wounds.  The road to healing can be long; however, anyone who’s been hurt has been hurt in relationship with other people. Significantly, we’re also healed through healthy relationships, the kind of relationships that are formed through Trusted Mentors.   

 I am grateful for our mentors who are walking alongside their mentees along their paths to wholeness.